Umno members can join Red Shirts protest
> Participation solely members’ decision, not party’s: Annuar
KUALA LUMPUR: Umno will not stop its members from taking to the streets to participate in the Red Shirt group’s activities on Saturday.
Party information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the decision by Umno members to join the Red Shirts is solely personal and they are not representing the party.
He, however, reminded all parties concerned that the rally and protest have been declared illegal by the police and thus those who participate must bear the consequences.
“We are not stopping them. Let’s be frank. Most Umno members are not happy with Bersih and some of course want to join the crowd and Baju Merah,” he said.
“That is strictly personal. At the party level, we have not made any decision on the matter. We will not stop anyone from participating,” he told reporters at Parliament.
The Red Shirts, led by Umno Sungai Besar division chief Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos, has pledged to bring its members into the city to counter the massive Bersih 5 rally this weekend. There had been previous clashes between the two groups which had led to supporters sustaining injuries.
When pressed further if Umno would take action against members participating in the rally, Annuar said the party has no effective means to stop them.
“Tell me how Umno can stop them if the members want to go. Even the police can’t stop the people and you expect Umno or its information chief to stop them from going.”
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Bar urged the government, police and City Hall to cooperate with Bersih 2.0 to facilitate the gathering.
“There is no requirement of licensing by the police for an assembly. Thus, the police have no power under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) to prohibit a rally. Rather, the police must respect, protect and facilitate the exercise of the constitutionally guaranteed right to assemble peaceably and without arms, which is a duty imposed by law on the police,” Malaysian Bar vice-president George Varughese said in a statement yesterday.
He also urged the police to invoke Section 18 of the PAA on counter- assembly, and give the Red Shirts an alternative for the counter assembly to be organised at another time, date or place. “This will avoid conflict between the participants of the Bersih 5 assembly and the Red Shirts. We urge the police to take measures to ensure both assemblies take place on separate dates or in separate places, peacefully and with minimal intrusion and disruption, while maintaining public order and protecting the safety of all participants,” he said.
– Tan Sri Annuar Musa